Newton Police Chief John Carmichael emphasizes community engagement

Leo, a golden retriever puppy just a few months old, is part of the community engagement plan. As a police department’s community resource dog, Leo will be specially trained as a service dog to help with socio-emotional learning, critical incidents, people facing traumatic situations and mental health calls, a said Carmichael.

Another facet of the community engagement plan is “positive notes”. When a Newton cop meets a youth doing something positive, like wearing a bicycle helmet, the child receives a voucher redeemable for a treat from one of the local businesses in partnership with the department.

“You look at these pieces of paper, and each one represents a positive encounter the police had with the youth in the community,” Carmichael said.

In an emailed statement, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said, “Chief Carmichael is reaching out and working hard to address the long-standing systemic issues facing our nation’s police services, from hiring more officers. diversified to strengthening community policing.

To address the systemic issues facing the police department, Carmichael strives to implement 21st Century Policing in Newton. President Barack Obama created the 21st Century Policing Presidential Task Force in 2014 to build trust between citizens and law enforcement to create an environment of mutual respect where all are invested in maintaining public safety, according to the final report of the working group of May 2015.

For 21st century policing, “the most important thing is procedural justice, the legitimacy of the police, the police trying to demonstrate to the community that we want to be fair, we want to be fair, we want to be impartial,” he said. said Carmichael. the philosophy of policing itself embraces that the community should have a say in setting the policing agenda.

Carmichael previously instituted 21st Century Policing at the Walpole Police Department, where he worked for 25 years, including five years as Chief of Police. He said he had come to Newton for the “new challenge” that the Newton Police Department would bring.

“At Walpole, I felt I had achieved all of my goals,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael is the “right person, at the right time to lead the Newton Police Department,” Fuller said in an emailed statement.

Richard Kelleher, Walpole’s acting chief of police and deputy chief of police under Carmichael, said he was “very progressive”.

“He implemented a lot of changes to make us focus more on community-based policing,” Kelleher said.

While in Newton, Carmichael worked with the Public Safety and Transportation Committee to communicate and educate the public on how the department is working to implement the recommendations of the Newton Police Reform Task Force. , progress in the implementation of the standard training system for state peace officers and other plans. as increased community engagement.

Councilor Andreae Downs, chair of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee, said the most notable changes since Carmichael’s appointment have been “morale and a complete openness to community involvement, community policing and advocacy. transparency”.

Newton Police Lt. Bruce Apotheker said Carmichael is “the most professional leader” he has worked for, particularly in “the way he communicates with the department and the community.”

Nora Lester Murad, member of Defund NPD – a group that has called for systemic change in the Newton Police Department – said: “The way Chief Carmichael presented this report is extremely problematic because there is no measurable goals ”, only“ process.

As police chief, Carmichael said he had an obligation to communicate with all community groups. “I’m not afraid to go into the community and talk to people who are scrutinizing the police or [are] our biggest critics, ”said Carmichael.

Katherine Hapgood can be contacted at [email protected]